WotC Gale Force 9 Sues WotC [Updated]

In the second lawsuit against WotC in recent weeks (Dragonlance authors Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman sued the company for breach of contract and other things about a month ago), Gale Force 9 is suing the company for breach of contract and implied duty of good faith. Gale Force 9 produces miniatures, cards, DM screens, and other D&D accessories. They’re asking for damages of nearly a...

In the second lawsuit against WotC in recent weeks (Dragonlance authors Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman sued the company for breach of contract and other things about a month ago), Gale Force 9 is suing the company for breach of contract and implied duty of good faith.

Gale Force 9 produces miniatures, cards, DM screens, and other D&D accessories. They’re asking for damages of nearly a million dollars, as well as an injunction to prevent WotC from terminating the licensing contract.

From the suit, it looks like WotC wanted to end a licensing agreement a year early. When GF9 didn't agree to that, WotC indicated that they would refuse to approve any new licensed products from GF9. It looks like the same sort of approach they took with Weis and Hickman, which also resulted in a lawsuit. The dispute appears to relate to some product translations in non-US markets. More information as I hear it!

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UPDATE. GF9's CEO, Jean-Paul Brisigotti, spoke to ICv2 and said: "After twelve years of working with Wizards, we find ourselves in a difficult place having to utilize the legal system to try and resolve an issue we have spent the last six months trying to amicably handle between us without any success. We still hope this can be settled between us but the timeline for a legal resolution has meant we have been forced to go down this path at this time."

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Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
If WotC had solid evidence that GF9 breached contract, they wouldn’t need to resort to the shady tactics they’re using.
I don't see how that follows. Your characterization that it's "shady" is very biased. All we have is the statements from each side. If what WOTC said is accurate, then how they did it is exactly how you'd do it under such a contract. At the time you become aware of a breach you give notice. If the breach cannot be cured (and I don't see how it could be in this event) then the contract ends due to breach after notice. There is nothing shady about that procedure. It's precisely how most contracts like this would deal with a breach.
 

SiCK_Boy

Explorer
I don't see how that follows. Your characterization that it's "shady" is very biased. All we have is the statements from each side. If what WOTC said is accurate, then how they did it is exactly how you'd do it under such a contract. At the time you become aware of a breach you give notice. If the breach cannot be cured (and I don't see how it could be in this event) then the contract ends due to breach after notice. There is nothing shady about that procedure. It's precisely how most contracts like this would deal with a breach.
We don't have statements from each side. We have a statement from Gf9 that tells us what WotC said / did (which could be, theoretically, false, but I doubt it).

If you read the full text of the Gf9 claim, it states that WotC notified them on Nov. 9th 2020 that they (WotC) wanted to put a stop to their contract with Gf9 because of alleged breaches related to the Korean and the French translation subcontractors.

But if you read further, you'll see that the issue with the Korean subcontractor all relates to products they put on the market in 2019. It took WotC one year to determine that this issue warranted putting a stop to their agreement with Gf9? And never during that year did they raise concerns with Gf9?

It's even more farcical in regards to the French subcontractor. That company (Black Book) released its Heroes & Dragons game (a french version of the SRD) in 2016. By the time WotC and Gf9 signed their agreement for translations in 2017, Heroes & Dragons was already out. Yet not only did WotC do nothing against Black Book at the time (or since - at least again based on the claim of Gf9), they (WotC) approved Black Book as the subcontractor for the French translation... and now they come along almost 4 years later and want to use that situation as an excuse to get out of the agreement with Gf9?

The whole thing smacks of foul play by WotC. They just didn't want to wait another year for their deal with Gf9 to expire (or pay whatever penalty was included in the deal for ending it early), and instead decided to stonewall them to prevent the release of new products while at the same time declaring them in breach of their agreement.

Obviously, we have yet to hear from WotC on their perspective on these events, but it's hard to imagine that so many facts would have been distorted or invented by Gf9. We probably will never hear from WotC, but the best indications of how solid a case Gf9 has will be the value of the reparation they get out of their out-of-court settlements, and the number of WotC managers / highers up (or lawyers) who lose their jobs in the coming months over this story.
 


Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
We don't have statements from each side. We have a statement from Gf9 that tells us what WotC said / did (which could be, theoretically, false, but I doubt it).

If you read the full text of the Gf9 claim, it states that WotC notified them on Nov. 9th 2020 that they (WotC) wanted to put a stop to their contract with Gf9 because of alleged breaches related to the Korean and the French translation subcontractors.

But if you read further, you'll see that the issue with the Korean subcontractor all relates to products they put on the market in 2019. It took WotC one year to determine that this issue warranted putting a stop to their agreement with Gf9? And never during that year did they raise concerns with Gf9?
Less than a year. It took until the products hit the shelves and then consumers made complaints about the translations which was the point where WOTC received notice there had been a breach. Given they do not have their own people who read those languages (that was part of the point of the contract in the first place, to outsource that) only when notified by consumers there was an issue did it come to their attention. Which is when they gave notice to GF9, after some relatively short period of time to verify the problems I assume.

As for them not raising concerns with GF9 I am betting they will say they did, and I am betting they will have evidence they did. We shall see.

One thing you learn after years of reading Complaints is the plaintiff case always looks it's best just before the other side provides their Answer. From my experience, your assumption this is a slam dunk case because the Complaint looks strong is naive. The Complaint has to look strong to even get to that point. This does not look like a slam dunk at all to me.
 

SiCK_Boy

Explorer
Fair enough. Although the argument that nobody at WotC speaks or read Korean seems wrong; someone at WotC actually approved the translated text before it got printed, so they must have had at least one person. Using subcontractors for translation and distribution in foreign markets is a business decision driven by many factors, of which the actual translation cost is just one (and probably not the main one).

It still seems like a flimsy excuse to get rid of their entire deal with Gf9... I mean, if the “Korean issue” had been such a big deal, we would probably have heard about it through international news before...
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
We don't have statements from each side. We have a statement from Gf9 that tells us what WotC said / did (which could be, theoretically, false, but I doubt it).

Even if we grant it is factually true, does not mean it isn't incomplete or misleading.

If you read the full text of the Gf9 claim, it states that WotC notified them on Nov. 9th 2020 that they (WotC) wanted to put a stop to their contract with Gf9 because of alleged breaches related to the Korean and the French translation subcontractors.

But if you read further, you'll see that the issue with the Korean subcontractor all relates to products they put on the market in 2019. It took WotC one year to determine that this issue warranted putting a stop to their agreement with Gf9? And never during that year did they raise concerns with Gf9?

So, this is exactly what I mean. Gf9 didn't say, "WotC said absolutely nothing to us prior to Nov. 9th, 2020 - all work with them has gone completely without a hitch," now did they? No. They said that this was when WotC said they wanted to end the contract. We know nothing of prior exchanges.

It is entirely possible that putting out the Korean and French translations was a complete and thorough pain in the neck, and had lots of issues that Gf9 was completely aware of, but hasn't spoken to the public about. And, some time later, as they were going over their choices for the year, WotC made a decision that working with Gf9 was not of sufficient value to them.

In this way, Gf9 could be telling the truth, but giving us so little of the story that we cannot judge.

Not that I know it did go down in this way, but a few public statements from companies with vested interests in how they appear do not give us sufficient context to pass judgements.
 


Olrox17

Hero
I don't see how that follows. Your characterization that it's "shady" is very biased. All we have is the statements from each side. If what WOTC said is accurate, then how they did it is exactly how you'd do it under such a contract. At the time you become aware of a breach you give notice. If the breach cannot be cured (and I don't see how it could be in this event) then the contract ends due to breach after notice. There is nothing shady about that procedure. It's precisely how most contracts like this would deal with a breach.
Basically, what Sick_Boy already answered. We may not have all the facts (and if this is settled out of court, we probably never will), but if WotC had solid proof of a breach of contract on GF9's part, they wouldn't need to play the "stall" tactic. The same tactic they used with the Dragonlance authors: they won't terminate the contract (because that would cost WotC money), but they'll just refuse to approve anything at all.

I was willing to give them the benefit of doubt during the Dragonlance debacle, but not anymore. This is a pattern.
 

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